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Dr Russ Blog - Relax, But Don't Sit Down
Relax, But Don't Sit Down
Created on 7/20/2012

A recent study published in BMJ Open evaluating the effects of sedentary behaviors (specifically sitting or watching television) has gotten a lot of attention. Here's why:

Katzmarzyk and his partners looked at data for a large number of people that included time spent sitting. They then calculated the impact of such physical inactivity on lifespan and found that sitting around much of the day can shorten the expected lifespan of a given population.

(NOTE - the data cannot be used to estimate the impact of sitting and TV watching for a given individual - this was a population-based study.)

Okay, that news isn't a big shock, right? We know that just sitting around for hours on end can't be good for us. 

So why the fuss?

Because the study included people who exercise regularly.

In other words, exercising regularly by itself does not appear to significantly lessen the public health risks associated with sitting or watching television.

There's no question that exercise is good for you - it helps enahnce cardiovascular health, reduces inflammation in the body, and enhances mood, among other benefits.

But if you think that you can safely sit around playing video games or watching television for 6-8 hours a day and still be optimally healthy because you work out - well, that may not be the case.

The message you should pay attention to is two-fold:

1) Exercise every day, focusing on aerobic workouts (such as taking a brisk walk) on most days and perhaps strength training intermittently, too.

2) Try not to sit too long each day. In fact, general recommendations extrapolated from this paper could be to limit sitting time to less than 3 hours a day. Not easy...

The paper did not specifically address sittting at work, but other studies have and also suggested that we should be getting up more often.

What can you do at work?

Get up. Often.

Maybe set a little alarm on your computer screen or watch to get up and walk a little every 60-90 minutes.

Watch for more news on this issue, but in the meantime it makes sense not only to exercise, but also to limit your time sitting where possible in order to...

be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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